Some local bars find creative ways to operate, others close following Gov. Abbott’s order

Bar owners and employees across the state are having to figure what's next for them all over again
Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2020 at 11:18 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - In response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Friday morning asking every bar in the state to close their doors at noon.

The order states, ”All bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages are required to close at 12:00 PM today. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages, as authorized by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission,” said Gov. Abbott.

It’s a move bar owners say they did not see coming. Now, many are wondering where they’ll be getting their next paycheck.

We spoke with bar owners and managers in Downtown Bryan to ask what’s next for them.

Chris Lawrence, who owns Art of War, says he learned Friday morning that his bar would be empty, and his employees would be without a job for the second time this year.

“Our employees are wildly frustrated, just wildly frustrated. They want to work,” said Lawrence. “They’re acting responsibly here to protect people, but people aren’t acting responsibly to protect business.”

Lawrence says delivery and take-out is, unfortunately, not a feasible option for them.

“We focus so much on making fine cocktails for people. We’re not a grab-and-go kind of place. We don’t serve a lot of students, we’re more for adults. And so grabbing alcohol to-go is not what our business is around it. We just couldn’t do it,” said Lawrence.

Down the street, Downtown Elixir’s manager Travis Wood says they’re having to think outside the box to keep business moving. Beginning Saturday, they’re partnering with The LaSalle Hotel; not as a bar, but instead, as room service.

“We’re going to be clearing out the second floor of The LaSalle Hotel. We’re going to take out the beds and we’re actually going to allow guests to rent the rooms by the hour. It’ll be a $5 an hour charge for the rooms themselves, plus we’re doing full-service room service for every room as well,” said Wood.

Wood says there are just ten rooms available for guests on the second floor. With the limited number of rooms, they’re asking guests to call ahead of time to make a reservation. That number is (979) 822-2120. At this time, he says there’s no time limit for the rooms, but he asks that people be respectful of everyone else’s time.

In each room, there will be a dining table that can seat up to six guests. Servers will be in and out of the rooms serving guests throughout the evening until 2:00 a.m. Wood says is how Downtown Elixir plans on operating until they’re able to reopen.

As for Art of War, “We’ll be closed until people take some responsibility. That’s all there is to it,” said Lawrence.

Copyright 2020 KBTX. All rights reserved.

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